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Pandemic-afflicted households can claim thousands from Atlanta’s new rental assistance program

By Sean Keenan

Thousands of Atlantans feeling the strain of the coronavirus pandemic could get help paying rent, utility bills or security deposits, thanks to a new partnership with United Way of Greater Atlanta.

On Thursday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced $22 million from the city’s Coronavirus Relief Fund would fuel the new assistance program. Officials expect it to benefit upwards of 6,700 residents, according to a press release.

Households impacted by the mounting public health crisis can claim up to $3,000 each.

United Way of Greater Atlanta CEO Milton J. Little, Jr. said in a prepared statement that up to 16,000 households within the city limits pull in less than $50,000 annually and work jobs that are at a high risk of layoffs because of the economic fallout from COVID-19. These are the folks the program seeks to serve.

The news comes as the nation finds itself on the cusp of what Atlanta’s chief housing officer Terri Lee called a “tsunami” of evictions prompted by the pandemic.

Statewide, some 182,000 rental households were unable to pay rent and at risk of being evicted as of late July, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

The LSC data suggests estimates combating that swell of displacement in Georgia in court could cost more than $90 million.

Thankfully for many, the Magistrate Court of Fulton County recently opted to delay all in-person eviction hearings until November, meaning people who don’t consent to dealing with those proceedings via Zoom call are afforded some breathing room.

Before that, too, Mayor Bottoms effected a moratorium on residential evictions and eviction filings until the end of this month.

(Header image by Kelly Jordan)


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